By Anthony Caruso III
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/17/20
His team was undefeated and ranked third in the nation and he was leading Division I in both assists and points per game.
Princeton senior attackman Michael Sowers – an Upper Dublin alum – is one of many spring student-athletes who had their season abruptly come to an end due to the spread of the Coronavirus. The Ivy League announced on March 11 it was cancelling the rest of the season, several days before the NCAA closed out the rest of the season for all sports, including the Men’s Lacrosse Final Four slated for Lincoln Financial Field on Memorial Day Weekend.
At the time, Sowers had an amazing 47 points, with 16 goals and 31 assists in five impressive victories. He is the school’s all-time leading scorer with 302 points, with 121 goals and 181 assists through just 47 games.
The last game of Sowers’ college career may have come on March 7 against the Rutgers at Princeton’s Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium. The Tigers won the contest, 16-11.
Sowers answered these questuions in an exclusive interview with Phillylacrosse.com:
Q: When you first heard that the coronavirus caused your season to be cancelled, what did you think?
MS: “Obviously, we were extremely devastated. I think at the time, we didn’t understand the magnitude of the situation. We were really devastated. We all knew that this would be a possibility, especially what happened after the NBA situation (Ruby Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus causing the NBA to suspend their season), but we didn’t want to believe it. We knew how everything was trending, this was likely going to be the result.”
Q: Has it sunk in yet?
MS: “I’ve still been waking up every morning thinking that I’m in my usual routine. Now, it’s the reality that I have nothing to do during the day. It’s been a little bit of a loss feeling. It’s been crazy.”
Q: How do you describe the loss of the season and the time lost with your teammates?
MS: “I would do anything to have another day with our locker room again — to have another practice, another game with them. Even when I was playing, any extra achievement, that’s the dessert of the season. The fun part is being with your teammates every day and being out there on the field. The practices, the games, the dinners afterwards. I miss hanging out together. That’s what I’ve been looking forward to, and honestly, that’s what I’m going to miss the most.”
Q: You were a leading candidate for the Tewaaraton Award (last year you were a finalist), which is unlikely to be awarded. Do you feel any loss in that respect?
MS: “To be honest, I’m not worried about it. The Tewaaraton is the biggest honor that we can receive in our sport. Having an opportunity to be at the event last year, it’s truly a first-class event. It’s one of the coolest experiences you could possibly have as a lacrosse player. The Tewaaraton Foundation does an unbelievable job putting the event on, but for me, the last couple of days have been so devastating for myself and my teammates. The last thing I’ve been thinking about is any personal accomplishments or awards.”
Q: Have you attempted to get together with your teammates that may be local?
MS: “No. We immediately — once the season ended — we had a couple of days to get our things together and leave campus. Everyone headed out pretty quickly. We didn’t really get any closure on it. We have a sour taste in our mouths right now over how it ended.”
Q: The NCAA has said it will grant spring athletes another year of eligibility (the Ivy League would have to allow for graduate students). Have you thought about your future?
MS: “We’re waiting to hear what they’re going to do. We’re also waiting on the Ivy League decision, as well. We’re sitting tight and we’re trying to be optimistic. I know that the NCAA has come out and granted the fifth-year back to the seniors. But in the Ivy League, we’re still waiting on their exact direction.”
Q: If you do get the extra year of eligibility, are you going to take it, or go pro?
MS: “That’s a great question. I’m still considering all of my options. I’m not really sure and to be honest with you, I haven’t put much thought into it yet, because this situation is so fresh to me. I’m still trying to digest everything. Down the road, I’ll think about it, but I want to hear what the decision will be first on whether I will get an opportunity to play again with my teammates.”
Q: With this outbreak, have you even tried to practice even if it was at a local high school or field with high school players you know?
MS: “No, not really. I have talked to a couple of people, who are working out in small groups. I think everyone is taking it pretty seriously. I know all my teammates are home, but they’re all scattered, so there’s not many people in the Philly area. I think everyone is taking this social distancing thing pretty seriously. We’re just trying to wait it out until we get the clear once again.”
Q: How are you guys supporting each other through this difficult time?
MS: “We spent a lot of time together after it was announced. We spent it just like we normally would — hanging out or in our rooms together. I’m sure over the next couple of months, we’ll maintain close contact. But we’re going to be there for one another.”